If you can’t take care of yourself, how can you care for others?” says Melissa Delaney, an emergency room social worker at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital (HMNMH). The social worker knows first hand about the stresses and strains of taking care of a loved one. When she was pregnant, her father-in-law came to live with her and her husband. Her father-in-law had congestive heart failure at the time and she felt the added burden of caring for both him and her husband, not to mention herself. She survived with the coping skills she now shares with others in a newly-formed caregivers support group at HMNMH. Its purpose is to create a safe environment for caregivers to be able to talk about their needs.
“We help them to not feel so alone. They can talk with other people in similar situations who are caring for a loved one, exchange phone numbers and learn about resources that might help them during a time when they may be feeling overwhelmed from the demands of caring for a loved one,” says Delaney. She sees people struggling with what she refers to as the sandwich effect. Baby-boomers are getting older and their children are having children.
“Suddenly there is a sort of role reversal where children are caring for their parents, who may at times need the same level of care and attention you would give to a child, and their own children, thus being sandwiched between the two, caring for both,” says Delaney.The dynamic, she says can be emotionally disturbing, leading to aggravation, frustration and loads of stress. Round-the-clock care for others can be time-consuming and oftentimes caregivers end up having their own physical and mental health issues due to the drain on their lives.
Delaney says to find at least five minutes to do something just for yourself and feed your mind, body and soul. If your well runs dry, you’ll be worthless. And make time to meet with others at the caregivers support group. They meet the first and third Wednesdays of each month from 3 to 4:30 p.m. at the HMNMH Pavillion.
For further information, call 661-253-8919.
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